Asahi Breweries’ market performance in the past three years had amazed the Japanese business community. Being a marginal player before 1986, the company had recorded an increase of 71.9% beer sales volume in 1988 while the whole industry grew only 7.6%. At the same period, the company’s market share grew from 10.5% to 20.6%. The company’s current flagship product is its Super Dry beer, a revolutionary beer with an appealing and a distinct sharp taste. Accordingly, Asahi’s competitors have also moved into the dry beer market and attempted to capitalize the surprising profitable opportunity. Thus, Asahi has encountered many challenges resulted from the high growth rate of sales and emerging competition. Asahi’s capital infrastructures and
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Besides its strong financial power, Asahi possesses other immobile advantages that are sustainable and critical for its future success. Asahi’s Research & Development department is very strong in products innovation and market trend analysis. Asahi is also very dedicated and unique in its product design. Since the “post-dry” era, innovation in new taste and uniqueness in packaging are the key success factors for the beer industry. In the dry beer segment, Asahi has some of the first mover advantages and gained reputation as the only real dry beer. Therefore, the willingness to pay for Asahi’s dry beer is much higher than its costs. Overall, Asahi operated in the focused differentiation strategy with emphasis on branding and new product development.
Summary and Solutions
Ever since Higuchi took over the CEO role, Asahi has been changing the overall brand image by launching the new Super Dry beer. Higuchi wants the consumers and competitors to know that Asahi is determined to be the best beer producer in the market. Some of his brilliant moves are: started using premium Germany malt as the choice of raw materials, granted aggressive budget on advertising and promotion, and made an order to recall all the “old label” beers in the market while launching the new Asahi Draft. In a short period of time, although consumers have responded positively to Asahi’s Super Dry, Asahi is still troubled with issues such as pressure on distribution channel